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The Philippines ( ) officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Oceanmarker. To its north across the Luzon Straitmarker lies Taiwanmarker. To its west across the South China Seamarker is Vietnammarker. The Sulu Seamarker to the southwest separates it from the island of Borneomarker and to the south the Celebes Seamarker from other islands of Indonesiamarker. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Seamarker. An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines has the 5th longest coastline in the world. The islands are categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzonmarker, Visayasmarker, and Mindanaomarker. The capital city is Manilamarker.

With an estimated population of about 92,000,000 people, the Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country. It is estimated that there are about 11,000,000 overseas Filipinos worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the total population of the Philippines. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. Ecologically, the Philippines with its tropical climate is one of the most diverse countries in the world.

Its national economy is the 47th largest in the world, with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP nominal) of over US$ 166.9 billion (nominal). Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits. Major trading partners include Chinamarker, Japanmarker, the United Statesmarker, Singaporemarker, Hong Kongmarker, Saudi Arabiamarker, South Koreamarker, Thailandmarker, and Malaysiamarker. Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso (PHP).

In ancient times the archipelago was populated by successive waves of Austronesian peoples who brought with them influences from Malay, Hindu, and Islamic cultures. Trade introduced Chinese cultural influences. The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 marked the beginning of an era of Spanishmarker interest and eventually dominance. The Philippines became the Asian hub of the Manila-Acapulco galleon treasure fleet. Christianity became widespread and there was a brief British occupation. As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, there followed in quick succession the short-lived Philippine Revolution, the Spanish-American War, and the Philippine-American War. In the aftermath, the United Statesmarker replaced Spainmarker as the dominant power. Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until the end of World War II when the Philippines gained independence. The United States bequeathed to the Philippines the English language and its democratic presidential system of government. Since independence the Philippines has had an often tumultuous experience with democracy, with popular "People Power" movements overthrowing a dictatorship in one instance but also underlining the institutional weaknesses of its constitutional republic in others.


The name Philippines was derived from King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century. Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos used the name Las Islas Filipinas, in honor of the Prince of Asturiasmarker (Spain) during his expedition to the islands, originally referring to the islands of Leyte and Samarmarker. Despite the presence of other names, the name Filipinas was chosen as the name of the archipelago.

The official name of the Philippines changed throughout the course of its history. During the Philippine Revolution, it was officially called República Filipina or the Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War, until the Commonwealth period, American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the original Spanish name. It was during the American period that the name Philippines began to appear, a name that has become its common name. The official name of the country is now Republic of the Philippines.


Archeological discoveries show that humans existed in the Philippines around 40,000 years ago. The Negritos, a pre-Mongoloid ethnic group that migrated from mainland Asia, settled in the islands about 30,000 years ago. Another ethnic group of Malayo-Polynesian speaking people originated from the populations of Taiwanese aborigines and settled in the Philippines approximately 6,000 years ago. They would populate the regions now known as Malaysiamarker, Indonesiamarker, the Pacific Islands, and Madagascarmarker.

These early settlers traded with other Asian countries during the prehistoric period. Before the arrival of Islam, animism syncretized with Hinduism, and Buddhism were the religions worshiped by various Philippine indigenous kingdoms. There was no unifying political state encompassing the entire Philippine Archipelago. Instead, the islands were divided among competing thalassocracies ruled by various datus, rajahs, and sultans. Among these were the Kingdom of Maynila, Namayan, the Dynasty of Tondo, the Madya-as Confederacy, Butuan, Cebumarker, Maguindanao, and Sulu. Some of these societies were part of the Malayan empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit, and Bruneimarker. Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders, and proselytizers from Malaysia, and Indonesia. By the 13th century, Islam were established in the Sulu Archipelagomarker, and reached Mindanaomarker, the Visayasmarker, and Luzonmarker by 1565.

In 1521, Portuguesemarker explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines, and claimed the islands for Spain. Colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi, arrived from Mexicomarker in 1565, and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. In 1571, they established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies..

Spanish rule brought political unification to the archipelago that later became the Philippines, and introduced elements of western civilization such as the code of law, printing and the calendar. The Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1565 to 1821, before it was administered directly from Madridmarker after the Mexican revolution. The Manila galleons which linked Manila to Acapulcomarker traveled once or twice a year between the 16th and 19th century. The Spanish military fought off various indigenous revolts and several external colonial challenges from the British, Chinese pirates, Dutch, and Portuguese. Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, universities, and hospitals. In 1863 a Spanish decree introduced education, establishing free public schooling in Spanish.Between the 1700s and 1800s, the Philippines opened its ports to world trade. Many criollos and mestizos became wealthy. The influx of Spanish settlers secularized churches, and government positions traditionally held by the criollos. The ideals of revolution also began to spread through the islands. Criollo insurgency resulted in the Novales Mutiny, and the revolt in Cavite El Viejo in 1872 that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution.

An ideology of a revolution grew after colonial authorities executed the three priests, Mariano Gómez, José Burgos and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as Gomburza), who were accused of sedition, in 1872. This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines. Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion. As attempts at reform were meeting with resistance, Andrés Bonifacio in 1892 established the secret society called the Katipunan, a society along the lines of the freemasons, which sought independence from Spain through armed revolt. Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavitemarker province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio's position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over. In 1898, the Spanish-American War began in Cubamarker and reached the Philippines. Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898, and the First Philippine Republic was established the following year. Meanwhile, the islands were ceded by Spain, together with Cubamarker, Puerto Rico, and Guammarker, to the United States for $20 million dollars, in the Treaty of Paris. This lead to the Philippine-American War after the First Philippine Republic was not recognized by the United States and eventually resulted in American control over the islands.

In 1935, the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status. Plans for independence over the next decade were interrupted by World War II when Japanmarker invaded. Allied troops defeated the Japanese in 1944. On July 4, 1946, the Philippines attained its independence.

Immediately after World War II, the Philippines faced a number of challenges. The country had to be rebuilt from the ravages of war. It also had to come to terms with Japanese collaborators. Meanwhile, disgruntled remnants of the Hukbalahap communist rebel army that had previously fought against and resisted the Japanese continued to roam the rural regions. Eventually this threat was dealt with by Secretary of National Defense and later President Ramon Magsaysay but sporadic cases of communist insurgency continued to flare up long afterward.

In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos was elected president. Barred from seeking a third term, he declared martial law on September 21, 1972. By using political divisions, the tension of the Cold War, and the specter of communist rebellion and Islamic insurgency as justifications; he governed by decree, along with his wife Imelda Marcos. On August 21, 1983, Marcos' chief rival opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. ignored warnings and returned from exile in the United States. He was assassinated as he was taken off the plane at the Manila International Airport (now called the Ninoy Aquino International Airportmarker in his memory). With political pressure building Marcos eventually called for snap presidential elections in 1986. Corazon Aquino, Benigno's widow, was convinced into becoming the presidential candidate and standard bearer of the opposition. The elections were widely thought of as rigged when Marcos was proclaimed the winner. This led to the People Power Revolution instigated when long time Marcos allies Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief-of-Staff Fidel V. Ramos and Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile resigned and withdrew their support and barricaded themselves in Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame. Exhorted on by the Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin, people gathered in support of the rebel leaders and protested on EDSA. In the face of mass protests and military defections, Marcos and his allies fled to Hawaii and into exile. Corazon Aquino was recognized as president.

The return of democracy and government reforms after the events of 1986 were hampered by national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, a persistent communist insurgency and Islamic separatists. The economy improved during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, who was elected in 1992. However, the economic improvements were negated with the onset of the East Asian financial crisis in 1997. In 2001, amid charges of corruption and a stalled impeachment process, Ramos' successor Joseph Ejercito Estrada was ousted from the presidency by the 2001 EDSA Revolution and replaced by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Politics and government

The Philippines has a presidential, unitary form of government (with some modification, there is one autonomous region largely free from the national government), where the President functions as both head of state and head of government and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a single six-year term, during which time she or he appoints and presides over the cabinet.

The bicameral Congress is composed of a Senate, serving as the upper house, with members elected to a six-year term, and a House of Representatives, serving as the lower house, with members elected to a three-year term. They are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation.

The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all appointed by the Philippine President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

There have been attempts to change the government to a federal, unicameral or parliamentary government beginning in the term of Ramos up to the present administration.

Security and defense


Philippine defense is handled by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which is modeled after the United States armed forces and is composed of three branches: the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy (including the Marine Corps). Civilian security is handled by Philippine National Police under the DILG. In metropolitan areas, groups like the MMDA are in charge local issues, such as traffic.

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the largest separatist organizations, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are actively engaging the government, seeking more rights and better autonomy for their people. Militant organizations, such as the New People's Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group, have been roaming the provinces, however their presence has decreased in recent years due to successful security provided by the Philippine government.

The Philippines has been an ally of the United States since World War II.United Nations Security Council: Official Records: First Year, First Series, First Meeting It has supported American policies during the Cold War, and has participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars as a result of the country's involvement with SEATO, a group that includes Australia, France, New Zealandmarker, Pakistanmarker, Thailandmarker, the United Kingdommarker and the United States. After the start of the War on Terror, there has been additional support from the United States military. The country is currently working with the United States, through a visiting forces agreement, with the intention of ending the insurgency in the country. The Philippines also has a military agreement with Australia. Other important military allies include Bruneimarker, Indonesiamarker, Japanmarker, Malaysiamarker, Singaporemarker, South Koreamarker, Taiwanmarker, Thailandmarker, the United Kingdommarker and Vietnammarker.

International relations

The Philippines' international relations is focused on its ideals of democracy, peace and trade with other nations, as well as the well-being of the 11 million Overseas Filipinos living outside the country. It has aligned itself with several nations around the world including its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors, the United States, the Middle East, the Vaticanmarker and other countries.

As a founding and active member of the United Nations, the Philippines has been elected several times into the Security Council. Carlos P. Romulo was a former President of the United Nations General Assembly. The country is also an active participant in the Human Rights Council as well as in peacekeeping missions, particularly in East Timor. Aside from the United Nations, the country is also a founding and active member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) with the intention of strengthening relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors and promoting economic and cultural growth between member states. It has hosted several summits and is an active contributor to the direction and policies of the bloc. The current relations it enjoys with other Southeast Asian states is in contrast with its relations with them before the 1970s when it was at war with Vietnammarker and was heavily disputing Sabah with Malaysiamarker, although misunderstandings between these states continue to exist due to the Spratly Islandsmarker.

The Philippines values its relations with the United Statesmarker, and has actively supported most of the other's policies with regards to foreign affairs As a Major non-NATO ally, the country supported the United States during the Cold War and the War on Terror. It has also committed itself to promote the American ideals of democracy. Despite this history of goodwill, controversy continues to exist between the relations of the two nations, with varying issues such as the Philippine-American War, the Bell Trade Act, the presence of U.S. military bases in Subic Baymarker and Clarkmarker, and the Visiting Forces Agreement. Japan is also treated as an ally due to the Official Development Assistance given to the people, although historical tensions exist due to the plight of comfort women.

Relations with Spain, Europe and Latin America remained positive due to shared interests. Despite the threat of violence (such as domestic abuse and war) on Overseas Filipino Workers, particularly on domestic workers, relations with Middle Eastern countries (including Egyptmarker, Iranmarker, Iraqmarker, Libyamarker, Saudi Arabiamarker, and the United Arab Emiratesmarker) continue to be friendly as proven by the continuous employment of more than two million Overseas Filipinos living there. Recent foreign policy has been mostly about economic relations with its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors.

The Philippines is a member of the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Unionmarker, the Group of 24 and the Non-Aligned Movement. It is also seeking to strengthen relations with Islamic countries by campaigning for observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Administrative divisions

Provinces and regions of the Philippines.

The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzonmarker, Visayasmarker and Mindanaomarker. These are divided into 17 regions, 80 provinces, 120 cities, 1,511 municipalities and 42,008 barangays. In addition, the Section 2 of Republic Act No. 5446 asserts that the country has acquired islands from Sabahmarker formerly (North Borneo).

Region Designation Regional center
Ilocos Region Region I San Fernandomarker, La Unionmarker
Cagayan Valley Region II Tuguegaraomarker, Cagayanmarker
Central Luzon Region III San Fernandomarker, Pampangamarker
CALABARZONmarker Region IV-A Calamba Citymarker, Lagunamarker
MIMAROPA Region IV-B Calapanmarker, Oriental Mindoromarker
Bicol Regionmarker Region V Legazpimarker, Albaymarker
Western Visayas Region VI Iloilo Citymarker
Central Visayasmarker Region VII Cebu Citymarker
Eastern Visayas Region VIII Taclobanmarker
Zamboanga Peninsulamarker Region IX Pagadianmarker, Zamboanga del Surmarker
Northern Mindanao Region X Cagayan de Oro Citymarker
Davao Region Region XI Davao Citymarker
SOCCSKSARGEN Region XII Koronadalmarker, South Cotabatomarker
Caragamarker Region XIII Butuanmarker
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ARMM Cotabato Citymarker
Cordillera Administrative Region CAR Baguiomarker
National Capital Regionmarker NCR Manilamarker


The Philippines constitutes an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 square kilometres (116,000 square miles). It is located between 116° 40', and 126° 34' E. longitude and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N. latitude and borders the Philippine Seamarker on the east, the South China Seamarker on the west, and the Celebes Seamarker on the south. The island of Borneomarker is located a few hundred kilometres southwest and Taiwanmarker is located directly to the north. The Moluccasmarker and Sulawesimarker are located to the south-southwest and Palaumarker is located to the east of the islands.

Most of the mountainous islands were covered in tropical rainforest and are volcanic in origin. The highest mountain is Mount Apomarker, located in Mindanao measuring at 2,954 metres (9,692 ft) above sea level. There are many active volcanos such as the Mayon Volcanomarker, Mount Pinatubomarker and Taal Volcanomarker. The islands are also located within the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific, and approximately 19 typhoons strike per year.

Located on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines have experienced frequent seismic and volcanic activities. Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. The last major earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake.

The longest river is the Cagayan River in northern Luzon. Manila Baymarker is connected to Laguna de Baymarker by means of the Pasig River. Subic Baymarker, the Davao Gulfmarker and the Moro Gulf are some of the important bays. Traversing the San Juanico Straitmarker is the San Juanico Bridgemarker that connects the islands of Samar, and Leyte.

Natural resources

The Philippines has abundant natural resources in areas such as agriculture, natural beauty and minerals. It has fertile lands, diverse flora and fauna, extensive coastlines and rich mineral deposits.

Endemic species include the tamaraw of Mindoro and the tarsier of Bohol. The Philippines lacks predators, with the exception of snakes, such as python and cobras, and birds of prey, such as the national bird, known as the Philippine eagle. Other native animals include the palm civet cat, the Mouse deer, the Visayan warty pig, and several species of bats.

Rainforests boast an array of flora, including several types of orchids and rafflesia. The narra is considered as the most important type of hardwood while banyan trees or the balete. The islands' major crops include rice, corn, sugarcane, coconut, abaca, and tobacco. Rice is the most important source of food along with corn. The coconut, mango, watermelon and other native fruits are important contributors to the nation's income.

Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. This also allows the Philippines to become a powerhouse with regards to geothermal energy. A notable example of the volcanic features of the islands include the Benham Plateaumarker to the east, a region active in tectonic subduction.

The Philippine territorial waters encompass as much as 1.67 million square kilometres, producing a unique and diverse marine life, an important part of the Coral Triangle. There are 2,400 fish species. Other marine products include corals, pearls, crabs and seaweeds. The rain forests offer prime habitat for more than 530 species of birds, some 800 species of orchids, and some 8,500 species of flowering plants.

Deforestation is acute in Southeast Asia, the second of the world's great biodiversity hot spots. The forest cover of the Philippines declined from 70% of the country's total land area in 1900 to about 18.3% in 1999.


The Philippines has a tropical climate and is usually hot and humid. The average yearly temperature is around 26.5°C (79.7°F). There are three recognized seasons: "Tag-init" or "Tag-araw" (the hot season or summer from March to May), "Tag-ulan" (the rainy season from June to November), and "Tag-lamig" (the cold season from December to February). The southwest monsoon (from May to October) is known as the "Habagat" and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (from November to April) as the "Amihan". The coolest month is January, and the warmest is May. Both temperature and humidity levels reach the maximum in April and May. Manila and most of the lowland areas are hot and dusty from March to May. Even at this period, the temperatures rarely rise above 37°C and sea-level temperatures rarely fall below 27°C. Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters in the mountainous east coast section but less than 1,000 millimetres in some of the sheltered valleys. Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October.


The Philippines is a newly industrialized country, with an economy anchored on agriculture but with substantial contributions from manufacturing, mining, remittances from overseas Filipinos and service industries such as tourism, and business process outsourcing. Goldman Sachs includes the country in its list of the "Next Eleven" economies.

In the 1960s, the country was regarded as the second wealthiest in Asia, next to Japan.However, the leadership of Ferdinand Marcos proved disastrous, by transforming the market economy into a centrally planned economy. The country suffered from slow economic growth and bouts of economic recession. Only in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization did the economy begin to recover.

The Asian Financial Crisis affected the economy to an extent, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the peso and falls in the stock market, although the extent to which it was affected was not as severe as that of its Asian neighbors. This is largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the government partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fundmarker, in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth. By 2004, the economy experienced six percent growth in gross domestic product and 7.3% in 2007.

The Philippine economy is heavily reliant on remittances as a source of foreign currency, surpassing foreign direct investment. Chinamarker and Indiamarker have emerged as major economic competitors, siphoning away investors who would otherwise have invested their businesses, particularly telecommunication companies. Regional development is also somewhat uneven, with Luzon, and Metro Manila in particular gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions, although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the country.

The Philippines is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is also a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fundmarker (IMF), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Colombo Plan and the G-77 and other International organization. The daily income for 45% of the population of the Philippines is less than US$ 2.


Population growth of the Philippines.

The first official census in the Philippines was carried out in 1878. As of December 31, 1877, the country's population was recorded at 5,567,685 persons. By 2009, the Philippines has become the world's 12th most populous nation, with a population of over 92 million. An estimated figure of half of the population resides on the island of Luzon. Manilamarker, the capital city, is the eleventh most populous metropolitan area in the world. The population of the Greater Manila Area is around 20 million. Life expectancy is 71.09 years, with 74.15 years for females and 68.17 years for males. Population growth rate between 1995 to 2000 was 3.21% but has decreased to an estimated 1.95% for the 2005 to 2010 period.

There are about 11 million Filipinos outside the Philippines. Since the liberalization of United States immigration laws in 1965, the number of people in the United Statesmarker having Filipino ancestry had grown substantially to 3.1 million according to the 2007 estimates by the United States Census Bureau. According to the US Census Bureau, immigrants from the Philippines made up the second largest group after Mexico. Some 2 million Filipinos work in the Middle East, with nearly a million in Saudi Arabiamarker alone.


Filipinos belong to several Asian ethnic groups, grouped within the Malay or Malayo-Polynesian speaking people, who speak Austronesian languages. They originated from a population of Taiwanese aborigines, that migrated to the Philippines thousands of years ago from Taiwan, and brought with them knowledge of agriculture and ocean-sailing technology. Various people of different races and nationalities have intermarried with various indigenous ethnic groups. Their descendants are known as mestizos. The official population of all types of mixed blood individuals living in the country remain unknown.

The islands are composed of a multitude of different ethnic groups and cultures. These include non-tribal peoples such as the Visayan, the Tagalog, comprising about one-fifth of the country’s total population, the Ilocano, the Moro, the Kapampangan, the Bicolano, the Pangasinense, the Ibanag and the Ivatan. Indigenous peoples are also present including the Igorot, the Lumad, the Mangyan, the Badjao, and the tribes of Palawan. Negritos, such as the Aeta and the Ati, are considered the aboriginal inhabitants of the islands and are estimated to number around 300,000 people (0.3%). Migrant ethnic groups who have settled in the country from elsewhere include Chinese, Spanish, Americans, Arabs, British, Europeans, Indonesians, Japanese, Koreans, and South Asian. Chinese Filipinos number about 2 million.


The figure below shows the top twenty largest cities in the Philippines.


Native Languages (2000)
Tagalog 22 million
Cebuano 20 million
Ilokano 7.7 million
Hiligaynon 7 million
Waray-Waray 3.1 million
Kapampangan 2.9 million
Bicol Central 2.5 million
Chavacano creoles 2.5 million
Pangasinan 2.4 million
Bicol Albay 1.2 million
Maranao 1.2 million
Maguindanao 1.1 million
Kinaray-A 1.1 million
Tausug 1 million
Surigaonon 0.6 million
Masbateño 0.5 million
Aklanon 0.5 million
Ibanag 0.3 million

Over 180 native languages and dialects are spoken in the Philippines. They are part of the Borneo-Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family.

According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a de facto version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions. Both Tagalog and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media and business. Major languages recognized in the constitution include Bicolano, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tagalog and Waray-Waray. Spanish and Arabic are recognized as voluntary and optional languages.

Other languages such as Aklanon, Boholano, Chavacano, Zamboangueño, Cuyonon, Ifugao, Itbayatmarker, Ivatan, Kalinga, Kamayo, Kankana-ey, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Masbatenyo, Romblomanon, Surigaonon, Tausug, Yakan and several Visayan languages are dominant in their respective provinces.


The Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being East Timormarker. It is composed of several diocese and archdiocese. More than 90% of the population are Christians. About 80% belong to the Roman Catholic Church while the remaining 10% belong to other Christian denominations, such as the Philippine Independent Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventist Church, United Church of Christ and the Orthodox Church.

Several Baroque churches are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the San Agustín Church in Manila, the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Santa María) Church in Ilocos Sur, the Santo Tomás de Villanueva Church in Iloilo and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niñomarker in Cebu.

Between 5% to 10% of the population are Muslim, most of whom live in parts of Mindanao, Palawan and the Sulu Archipelago, an area known as Bangsamoro or the Moro region. Some have migrated into urban and rural areas in different parts of the country. Most Muslim Filipinos practice Shafi'i, a form of Sunni Islam, while other tribal groups such as the Bajau, practice a form mixed with Animism.

Philippine traditional religions are still practiced by many aboriginal and tribal groups, often syncretized with Christianity and Islam. Animism, Folk religion and Shamanism remain present as undercurrents of mainstream religion, through the albularyo, the babaylan and the manghihilot. Meanwhile, Buddhism, Taoism and Chinese folk religion, are dominant in Chinese communities.

Those belonging to the Bahá'í Faith, Hinduism, Judaism, or those with other spiritual beliefs, and those with no religion form the remaining minority.


Education in the Philippines is mostly Westernized, based on the American education system. Philippine DepEd reports a functional literacy rate of 84.1% for 2003. Other agencies are much more optimistic. Literacy is about equal for males and females. Spending for education composes 2.5% of the GDP. There were 42,152 elementary schools and 8,455 high schools registered with DepEd for school year 2006–2007. Classes start in June and end in March. The majority of colleges and universities follow a semester calendar from June to October and November to March. There are a number of foreign schools with study programs. The general pattern of formal education follows six stages:
  • Preschool
  • Elementary school
  • High school
  • Post-secondary education
  • Graduate education
  • Adult education
The Department of Education (DepEd), formerly (DECS), covers elementary, secondary, and non-formal education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) administers the post-secondary, middle-level education training and development, while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) supervises the college as well as graduate academic programs and degrees as well as regulate standards in higher education.



In spite of the mountainous terrain, approximately 14 percent of the 158,810 kilometres (98,110 miles) of roads in the Philippines are paved. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles and motorcycles are available when getting around the major cities and towns. In 2007, there are about 5.53 million registered motor vehicles and an average annual registration rate of 4.55%.

Train service is provided by the Strong Republic Transit System, which unified the three main railway networks that provide service of different areas of Metro Manila, and parts of Luzon, that includes the Manila Light Rail Transit System (LRT), the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

Seaports can be found throughout the islands. The busiest seaports are Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga, which are parts of the 3,219 kilometre of waterways and seaports. Passenger ships and other sea vessels such as Superferry, Negros Navigation and Sulpicio Lines serves Manila, with links to various cities and towns. In 2003, the 919-kilometres Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) was established and this is an integrated set of highway segments and ferry routes covering 17 cities.

Rivers, such as the Pasig River and Marikina River, have air-conditioned commuter ferries run by the Pasig River Ferry Service, connecting their numerous tributaries in Manila, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Pasig City and Marikina City.

There are 262 airports in the country, 75 of which have runways. The Ninoy Aquino International Airportmarker (NAIA) is the main airport. Other important airports include the Diosdado Macapagal International Airportmarker, Mactan-Cebu International Airportmarker and Francisco Bangoy International Airportmarker. Philippine Airlines, Asia's oldest commercial airline still operating under its original name and Cebu Pacific, the leading domestic airline, are the major airlines serving most domestic and international destinations.


The Philippines has one of the most sophisticated cellular phone industries in the world and one of the highest concentrations of users. Telecommunications are dominated by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, which is also the largest company in the country. Globe Telecom, Smart Communications and Sun Cellular on the other hand, are three of its largest cellular service providers.

There are an estimated 41,000,000 cellular phone users, the reason that the Philippines has been named as the "Texting Capital of the World", and the ownership rate is increasing. Text messaging has fostered a culture of quick greetings, and forwarded jokes among the Filipinos. Out of this growing number of avid texters, 5,500,000 of them use their cellular phones as virtual wallets, making it a leader among developing nations in providing financial transactions over cellular networks. In 2007, The nation sent an average of 1 billion SMS messages per day.

There are approximately 381 AM and 628 FM radio stations and 250 national and 1,501 cable television stations. Internet penetration in the Philippines has reached around 24.5% of the population representing about 24 million people or 2.9% of all internet users in Asia. Social networking and MMORPGs, are among the most frequent internet activities.

Culture and society

Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines shares many aspects with other Asian countries, with traditional Malay culture being its prime heritage, yet it also displays significant amount of Spanish, and American influences. These Hispanic influences are evident in literature, folk music, folk dance, language, food, art, and religion.

Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common. The Moriones Festival and Sinulog Festival are a couple of the most well-known. These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing. Some traditions, however, are changing or gradually being forgotten due to modernization. The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company has been lauded for preserving many of the various traditional folk dances found throughout the Philippines. They are famed for their iconic performances of Philippine dances such as the tinikling and singkil that both feature the use of clashing bamboo poles.

One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish surnames and names among Filipinos. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial decree, the Clavería edict, for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system on the population. A Spanish name and surname among the majority of Filipinos does not always denote Spanish ancestry. The majority of street names, towns and provinces are in Spanish. Spanish architecture made somewhat of an imprint in the Philippines, but many buildings bearing that influence were demolished during World War II. The remaining influences can be seen in the country's churches, government buildings, and universities. Many Hispanic-styled houses and buildings are preserved, like the towns in Viganmarker among others.

The use of the English language in the Philippines is the United States' most visible legacy. It has contributed to the influence of American pop cultural trends. This is seen in Filipinos' love of fast food, film and music. Fast food outlets are found on many street corners. American global fast food chain stalwarts have entered the market like McDonald's, those of Yum! Brands, Starbucks, and Burger King among others. However, local fast food chains have emerged, and successfully compete against their foreign rivals including Goldilocks and most notably Jollibee the leading fast food chain in the country. Modern day Filipinos also listen and watch contemporary European and American music and film. However, Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and local films are also appreciated.


Filipino cuisine has evolved over several centuries from its Malayo-Polynesian origins to become a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences. These influences have been adapted to local ingredients and the Filipino palate to create distinctively Filipino dishes.

Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the highly elaborate, such as the paellas and cocidos created for fiestas. Popular dishes include lechón, adobo, sinigang, kare-kare, tapa, crispy pata, pancit, lumpia, and halo-halo.

Unlike many of their Asian counterparts, Filipinos do not eat with chopsticks. They use western cutlery. However, possibly due to rice being the primary staple food and the popularity of a large number of stews or broth based main dishes in Filipino cuisine, the main pairing of utensils seen at the Filipino dining table is that of spoon and fork, not knife and fork. The traditional way of eating with the hands known as kamayan is seen more often in less urbanized areas.

Mythology and literature

Philippine mythology has been handed down through Philippine folk literature, which is the traditional oral literature of the Filipino people. This refers to a wide range of material due to the ethnic mix of the Philippines. Each unique ethnic group has its own stories and myths to tell. Nonetheless, Hindu and Spanish influence can be detected in many cases. Many of the myths are creation stories or stories about supernatural creatures, such as the Aswang (Vampire), the Diwata (Fairy), and Nature. The most recognized Philippine mythologies include the Ibong Adarna, Bernardo Carpio, Lam-Ang and Urduja.

In Philippine literature, Francisco Balagtas the writer of Florante at Laura is recognized as one of the Philippines' preeminent writers. José Rizal wrote Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), and El Filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed) in which he depicted the abuses of Spanish rule in his work and is considered a national hero for inspiring other Philippine revolutionaries to seek independence. Fernando María Guerrero is a noted poet. In more recent times, works such as Dekada '70 and Bayan Ko (My Country), have received national recognition for illustrating the martial law period of the 1970s and the pre-colonial period. Contemporary literature has mostly been focused on humor and everyday life, such as the works of Bob Ong.


Philippine media uses mainly Filipino (a de facto version of Tagalog) and English. Other Philippine languages, including various Visayan languages are also used in the media. Radio is currently the most accessible type of media due to the remoteness of certain rural locations and most local languages are broadcasted in this format.

The entertainment industry is vibrant with scandals and issues among celebrities, which are written in most broadsheets and tabloids. Drama and fantasy shows are anticipated in major television networks such as ABS-CBN, GMA Network and TV5, so are Latin telenovelas, Asianovelas and anime. Daytime television is dominated by game shows, variety shows, and talk shows such as Eat Bulaga, Game KNB? and Wowowee. Philippine cinema is also appreciated, but has faced competition from American and European films. Despite this, critically praised directors and actors remain active, including Mike de Leon, Lino Brocka, Judy Ann Santos, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor (known for her role in Himala, the most critically acclaimed film in the nation).

Sports and recreation

Various sports are played in the Philippines including basketball, boxing, volleyball, badminton, billiards, football , ten-pin bowling and sipa.

Basketball is played at both amateur and professional levels and is considered to be the most popular sport in the Philippines. In almost every corner of the cities, there is a basketball court as it is the favorite recreational activity by Filipinos.

Basketball, boxing, billiards, soccer, horse racing, chess and ten-pin bowling are the most watched sports. Philippine sports have produced several sports heroes, such as Francisco Guilledo, Flash Elorde, and Manny Pacquiao in boxing, Paulino Alcántara in football (soccer), Carlos Loyzaga, Robert Jaworski and Ramon Fernandez in basketball, Efren Reyes in billiards, Eugene Torre in chess, and Rafael Nepomuceno in bowling. Motocross, figure skating, cycling and mountaineering have become popular.

Traditional Filipino sports are popular, among the youth, primarily as children's games, such as luksung baka, patintero, piko, and tumbang preso. Sungka, while not as popular as it once was, is still viewed as a significant part of the traditional native Filipino games. Card games are popular during festivities, with some, including pusoy and tong-its, being used as a form of illegal gambling. Mahjong is played in some Filipino communities. The yo-yo a popular toy with roots in the Philippines was introduced internationally by Pedro Flores with its name from the Ilokano language.

Arnis and eskrima are Filipino martial arts.

See also


External links


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